'Pre-school education has a fundamental importance in supporting children's development and learning. We are committed to quality in pre-school education, and a key support for quality is sound curriculum guidance. So I am delighted to announce the publication of a new curriculum framework for children in their pre-school year.
'It provides a sound basis for planning an effective curriculum for children in their pre-school year. It will be a key factor working with our many other current quality initiatives in pre-school education, such as the o1m training grant which I announced on September 18.
1. The minister announced on May 16 the transitional arrangements for pre-school education in the school year 1997/98. These involve retaining a radically streamlined voucher system on a temporary basis until June 1998.
2. The government are committed to expand pre-school education so as to offer quality places by the Winter of 1998-99 to all children in their pre-school year, and staged targets for provision for three-year-olds thereafter.
3. The minister announced on September 18 that local authorities would be given the lead role in pre-school education in Scotland. They will be expected to plan, co-ordinate and deliver pre-school education at local level. The minister also announced a series of initiatives to support the growth of pre-school education, including the publication of the Curriculum Framework for Children in their Pre-school Year. Work is proceeding on the new comprehensive funding systems which will apply from August 1998, and a consultation paper will be issued later in the autumn.
4. All centres receiving government grant for pre-school education are required to follow the framework. The framework was developed by HM Inspectorate of Schools who appointed a seconded nursery teacher to assist in the preparation of the draft guideline. The Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum then undertook an extensive consultation exercise. The response to the consultations was very positive and HMI have now made some further adjustments to the text in light of this.
5. A Gaelic version of the Curriculum Framework for Children in their Pre-school Year will be available towards the end of October. The curriculum will also be available on the internet at The Scottish Office Web site.